Birkirkara stabbing: Grech died due to cardiac arrest from loss of blood, jury hears

A court expert told the jury trying Etienne Bartolo, 39, of Birkirkara that the victim died of hypovolemic shock due to a stab wound in the chest.

Bartolo known as il-Vojt, stands accused of having fatally stabbed Grech in 2017 in Birkirkara over drug payments.

The trial by jury which is now in its fifth day, saw medico-legal expert Mario Scerri, Professor Safraz Ali, Professor Maria Therese Camilleri Podesta, DNA expert Dr Marisa Cassar, and forensic scientist Roderick Sammut taking the witness stand on Monday.

During his testimony, Scerri showed a series of pictures he had taken to document his examination of the body. Grech suffered six stab wounds – including on the back of his neck, chest, hands and leg.

Less blood was found on the driver’s seat than outside, the court expert told the court with Scerri replying to defence lawyer Mark Vassallo that the victim was probably stabbed as he stepped out of the car.

The expert said that the cause of death was a cardiac arrest due to the amount of blood that was lost.

The accused had just a scratch. Further, the expert said that there was probably a struggle between the accused and the victim and this resulted from the blood stains and the injuries.

Professor Safraz Ali and Professor Maria Therese Camilleri Podesta who carried out the autopsy jointly, testified presenting a copy of their report. During their testimony they told the jury that the victim died due to hypovolemic shock due to a stab wound in the chest. This involves the blood pressure dropping due to lack of blood and death ensues. The blood loss was due to the wounds to his chest, according to Professor Camilleri Podesta. The victim had three wounds close to each other which contributed to death, she explained.

Dr Marisa Cassar said that the blood found on the passenger seat matched that of the victim. The DNA of the accused was not found inside the car. Sammut told the court that he examined a white substance which was found at the scene. The substance was confirmed to be a single dose of low-purity crack cocaine.

Madam Justice Consuelo Scerri Herrera is presiding the trial. Lawyers Maria Francesca Spiteri and Kevin Valletta from the Office of the Attorney General are prosecuting. Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo appeared for the accused.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia are appearing for the victim’s family.

The jury continues on Tuesday.